March Madness ended on Monday with the UConn Huskies defeating the San Diego State Aztecs to win a national title. Here’s an up-close look at the action.
Yesterday I went to the NCAA Men’s Championship game in Houston between the San Diego State Aztecs and the UConn Huskies. The last time I went to a championship game was in 2011 when UConn defeated the Butler Bulldogs 53-41 in Houston. I expected this game to be similar to the one in 2011. A defensive clinic between both teams was my projection and for the most part, I was correct.
When I walked into NRG Stadium there were fans representing all kinds of schools but that’s to be expected. Of course, the majority of the stadium was filled with UConn blue and white and San Diego state black and red.
The sections behind both respective benches never ceased to make noise for a great defensive play or an explosive play on offense. The acoustics at NRG are strong and you could hear a pen drop when the crowd got quiet. In one instance, an Aztec head coach stepped onto the sideline of the raised court and you could hear it audibly. The mics around the court did their first job.
The energy in the stadium was infectious for majority of the time. After the anthem it got loud. When the PA announcer introduced the four astronauts who were chosen by NASA for the Artemis II mission just mere hours before, there were cheers that could be heard from all over the city. Houston is not called Space City for nothing.
The section to my left gave the absolute most energy throughout the whole game aside from the fans behind the benches. That section was filled with majority UConn fans who never sat down even during time-outs. If you didn’t know the student sections were located behind the basket, you’d think it was them. That’s how rowdy they were.
Now onto the student sections. It was quite clear who held the energy advantage. UConn’s student section had around five rows of emptied seats while San Diego State could’ve probably used those extra rows. It’s not surprising for the Aztec students to show up and out as this tournament run is literal history. But for the Husky students to not come out and support their opponent was kind of disappointing to see. Nevertheless, they still got loud but the Aztec students held a firm advantage.
Finally, the sound of the court. When I say you could hear the players talking and communication, I mean it. Every single noise on the court was audible. Whether or not you could make every word out fully is aside the point. The squeaks of the shoes, the doink on the rim and the swish of the net filled the stadium. Even the missed dunk by Jordan Hawkins displayed more noise than the anticipating cheers from fans.
When the walk-ons entered the game as a signal for the impending UConn victory, you could hear the dribbles all around the half-court from Andrew Hurley. The UConn fans rose to their feet and let out emphatic roars of pride. Their Huskies were mere moments away from their fifth national championship and an undefeated run in Texas.
Lastly, the emotions from the net cutting could be felt everywhere. Seeing the joy in the player’s eyes as they climbed the ladder to take a piece of the net with confetti on their hats is an unreal feeling.
Celebrating a 76-59 win with the Aztecs threatening in the second half made this tournament run a lot more meaningful. The love these fans have for their teams was evident. Even at the times when the stadium felt hushed, there were always bunches that stayed loud and kept the energy alive.